The guy who knows everything

The latest Steven King film can't twist fast enough to avoid its doom.

Tom Horgen

Johnny Depp continues his conquest of all roles weird with the suspense-thriller “Secret Window.” Neurotic behavior hasn’t been paid this much attention since Woody Allen started mumbling for effect.

Unfortunately, the movie can’t keep up with our new king neurotic.

Depp plays a writer who spends his waking hours teasing his ridiculous hair, pacing his log cabin in his ex-wife’s bathrobe and muttering funny quips to his dreary-eyed dog. Then one day an angry John Turturro, connoisseur of equally strange roles, knocks on his door claiming Depp plagiarized from him. And with that, the duel of weird speech patterns begins.

Writer/director David Koepp adapted “Secret Window” from a lesser-known novella by Stephen King. Koepp might not be a household name but he’s behind several of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters. He’s the screenwriter for “Spider-Man” and co-wrote the screenplays for “Jurassic Park” and “Mission: Impossible.”

Koepp’s talent lies in his ability to keep the grandiose scenarios of those popcorn movies grounded in some form of suspense and personable intrigue. This is displayed here, working almost effortlessly in a smaller scale story with no rampaging dinosaurs and superheroes to contend with.

“Secret Window” chugs along appropriately, putting Depp in some precarious situations where he can show off his idiosyncratic funk. But the film finally sputters out when it tries to take on the novella’s twist ending.

Without giving too much away, the film’s big twist fails because it plays the trick on us instead of on its characters. The twist endings in “The Sixth Sense” and “Fight Club” work because those films build their stories and their characters toward that moment when everything changes.

So when the revelation hits, it’s devastating to the characters and us because we’ve watched them invest so much into the events of the film – be it following around a buck-toothed kid who sees dead people or a revolution against Ikea.

“Secret Window,” on the other hand, is like the Tom Cruise screw job, “Vanilla Sky.” Its twist has no pertinence to what’s happened in the film. It’s as if the rest of the movie didn’t need to exist for the twist to occur, which is sad, because Depp has spent approximately 90 minutes acting foolish for no reason.